November 20, 2009
Maranatha* – Our Ministry – Out on the Ranch
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Michael on Cowgirl
Dear Friends and Family of the Red River Ranch Retreat:
We have had quite a “ride” for the last six and a half years on the ranch. Before we moved here, there was only a cement (in Oklahoma the emphasis is on the first syllable –Cee ment) stock tank and a light pole. We purchased and moved a singlewide trailer in which to live, onto the ranch. First, we had to enlarge the lane into the ranch before we could even get the trailer here. For water we connected to a rusty old well (as our hunter friend Dave said “If the water was cold enough to hurt your teeth, you could almost drink it!”). Next, we put in a septic field (before this could be done, we had “his” and “hers” hay bales to go behind!). Now, fast forward to the present:
We have a ranch house Bed & Breakfast, with a large swimming pool, hot tub, gift shop and a large lawn with a pergola and a pretty little bridge. We’ve had several weddings – outside on the lawn and inside in front of our floor to ceiling rock fireplace. We’ve hosted ladies luncheons, a Valentine’s Day dinner, a “reading” by a Calgary born and Texas raised author and more importantly we have Church services in our living room every Sunday.
We have Grace Cabin, a very comfortable and homey little place for families or small groups to stay. Peace is an adjoining suite – we call it our honeymoon suite – with a beautiful large deluxe soaker tub in the bathroom and a fireplace which can be enjoyed from the tub or the bedroom. A porch wraps around the cabin providing shady spots from which to view the wildlife and more of God’s creation. There is also a hot tub in the yard.
Actually, more honeymoons have been in the Hilton Hide than in the “honeymoon suite”. This is a cabin that started out to be a deer stand, but got carried away and grew to be a cabin on stilts with a large porch. It is twelve feet off the ground, has a solar panel for electricity and a little woodstove for heat. Hunters and honeymooners alike enjoy the view from the lookout tower which is attached to the Hilton Hide, but twelve feet higher.
After moving into our ranch house, the mobile home became a bunkhouse with the addition of two bunkrooms. We’ve had many family re-unions here, with meals served on the huge veranda. And, we now have Elk City Water!!
We also have kid’s birthday parties, where the children can enjoy “hands on” farmyard animals. We have dug several ponds on the property and most are stocked with fish. The Old Swimming Hole is big enough to have a little paddle in a canoe, and when the North Fork of the Red River runs deep enough we have several canoes available for a fun trip down the river. There are five hundred acres of God’s beautiful creation in which to walk, play, hike, rest, relax, fish, hunt, horseback ride and to become reacquainted with the Creator. This is the setting for our ministry – Maranatha – Out on the Ranch.
Our original vision was to provide a safe, peaceful environment for burned out Christians, especially ministers and missionaries. A place to come to be refreshed, restored, renewed, and revived -- to relax and re-connect with God. Ideally we would like to be able to offer this opportunity free of cost and there have been times when we have felt led to do so and have been able to do so.
From the beginning, and all during of our time of construction on the ranch, God has sent us people to whom we have been able to minister. Many of the workers that helped us (and hindered) in construction have had drug or alcohol abuse issues. Some of them had to be locked in at night, some of them pawned our tools to get money for drugs, some of them got tools back “out of hock” before we knew that they were missing. One, while drunk, borrowed our vehicle, put it in the ditch and then came back to get the bulldozer to pull the pick-up truck out of the ditch. Imagine hearing the “clackity clack” of the tracks going down the driveway in the middle of the night! We have bailed out more than one of “God’s treasures” from the county jail. Ridge has baptized some of our workers and some of our guests. We have taken in homeless and we’ve had to turn some away. We have said good-bye for the last time on this earth, to a worker who became a dear friend and brother. We have lent money and a few have paid us back.
We began our days with morning devotions with our workers and continue to do so, today, even if there is only one person working on the ranch. We provide a good nutritious, filling meal at mid-day and try to be as Christlike as we possibly can to each visitor, guest or worker that comes to the ranch.
As recently as last week we had a crystal meth addict staying on the ranch, while trying to get off this insidious drug. It was a unique situation to be able to help him because for that week we had no other guests. We continue to pray for God’s strength to allow him freedom from this addiction.
We have had groups of inner-city kids from Oklahoma City spend several days at a time on the ranch, taking part in horseback riding, gathering eggs, spending time in the petting zoo, doing the “low ropes” course, fishing and experiencing the love of Christ through the members of the Methodist Church. We’ve had groups of kids from Baptist churches stay on the ranch and from several non-denominational churches.
College groups have come for retreat, women’s groups have come for retreat and men’s groups, too, also have come for retreat. Many of the guests that have come to the ranch for vacations or family re-unions attend our Church service on Sunday and stay for hamburgers and fellowship afterwards.
We are now in the position where we have used all our own resources in reaching out in ministry to those people that God has put in our path and now, find it necessary to ask for financial help.
If God is calling you or your Church to be a financial supporter of our ministry and you would like more information about the Red River Ranch Retreat and Maranatha please contact us.
Elizabeth wrote the preceding letter and asked me to read it. I would like to add
that Elizabeth has contributed her entire inheritance to the ministry. She is as they say at the poker table, “all in”. I have been “all in” from the beginning, but for me that was about thirty-five dollars. Lorene MacKenzie has graciously donated the ranch land to the ministry.
God has spoken to my heart to “go forward” but I don’t see a way to go forward without outside help. We believe that God is calling us to build a conference center to enable more people in the community, in our state and in the adjoining states to be ministered to on the ranch. We have been approached by two army bases to open up our ranch to returning soldiers and their families for a time of recreation and restoration. They like that we are non-denominational but definitely Christian. To facilitate this we must have an activity center where the soldiers and their families can gather for games and entertainment.
God loves a cheerful giver and we don’t want anyone to give into this ministry because of pressure, or feeling guilty, or because they owe us something. But if you truly are “led” of the spirit to give, we welcome, and need your support. Right now Danny, our lone worker, is going through his own trials and we have had to cut his hours back to try to make it through the winter. Elizabeth and I worked ourselves nearly to exhaustion this summer trying to do everything ourselves, and we didn’t mind, in fact we love the ministry so much that it is a joy, but we are getting older and could use some young blood.
The ministry arm of THE RED RIVER RANCH RETREAT is called MARANATHA. Maranatha is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. What that means to you in your giving is that you can deduct it from your taxes if you give to Maranatha.
If you have any questions or if you need prayer support, you can talk to Elizabeth or myself at any time of the day or night, and trust me -- we get calls continuously. We want to continue to minister to you and pray for you. At the same time we could sure use some financial and prayer support. Some of our friends and previous guests have volunteered to come and help us on a busy weekend. What a special blessing that has been for all involved!
Donations may be used for:
- sponsoring children to come to the ranch
- days of retreat for your own pastor
- purchase of replacement or new equipment (such as paintball supplies)
- maintenance of property and vehicles
- feed for the farm animals
Donations of animal feed and hay are gratefully accepted for our menagerie which consists of:
- the horses (Toughie, Sherman, Roy, Thor, Gent, Duke, Socks, Cowgirl, Blue, Breeze, Shadow, Cinderella, Buck, Clem and Thunder)
- the donkeys (Burrito and Taco)
- the goats (Amber and Sky)
- the sheep ( six and counting)
- the ducks
- the chickens (laying hens)
- the pigs (Had Roast Beef and None)
- the dogs (QT Pii, Delilah, Buddy, Baby, Leah and Chloe)
Checks are to be made out to:
Our address is: Red River Ranch Retreat
19079 East 1210 Road, Sayre, OK 73662
Donations can be made through: Mastercard, Visa, Discover, or Paypal
Online giving is available: www.redriverranchretreat.com
Email address for the ranch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our telephone number: 580-928-2074
Cell numbers are: 580-243-9429 (Ridge) 580-729-0007 (Elizabeth)
If you are unable to contribute to the ministry would please pray for the ministry, pray for resources to be provided. Receipts for income tax purposes will be provided.
*Maranatha (either מרנא תא; maranâ' thâ' or מרן אתא; maran 'athâ' ) is an Aramaic phrase translated as “O Lord, come!” It is a prayer for the early return of Christ and may have been used as a greeting between early Christians.
RED RIVER RANCH RETREAT
19079 East 1210 Road
Sayre , Oklahoma 73662